The End of #Inktober2017, and moving on…

October is over which means #Inktober has ended. I find myself with conflicting feelings. I love that I was able to complete #Inktober. I’m sad that it is over. In some ways I miss it, while in other ways I’m glad it is over so I can move on to using what I learned, during #Inktober, in my other art. I want to move on to working on larger pieces though they will still be in one of my many art journals, they will be larger than the 2 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ spaces I blocked out for my #Inktober pieces.

I did, however, choose to do the last #Inktober drawing a bit larger. I used the whole page instead of blocking off a small section and wasting the rest of the page. So with no more delay here are my pages from #Inktober2017:

I sort of cheated on the last page. I added some graphite shading to it so it is not 100% ink. I’m also not sure I am totally done with it. It is still calling for something more, especially in the square spirals. They need more drama to them. Just not sure how to do that yet.

Towards the end of October, I was feeling a strong pull to do something with color. Because I’ve been learning a lot from Tamara Laporte and her use of Neocolor II and acrylic paint, those are usually my go-to art supplies, especially when creating faces. I pulled out my handmade art journal I had originally created for BOD2017 (Book of Days 2017). When I created it, I used watercolor paper, so now it is my journal for when I want to use wet medium. I have been so enjoying my #Inktober faces I immediately went to drawing a face in my BOD journal for the intent of adding color with paint. Here is my progress so far:

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I started first with Neocolor II, salmon. Then added SmartCraft vanilla. I left it to dry over night, then added more Neocolor II, and acrylic paint. I don’t remember all the colors I used, and I left it to dry over night between each of the layers. There is probably four or five layers. Of the Neocolor II’s I used paynes grey, indigo blue, salmon, phthalocyanine green, yellow green, malachite green, emerald green, purple, carmine, raw umber, ocher, brown, black and light grey.  I only used vanilla and white acrylic paint. Obviously, I’m not afraid of mixing and overlaying a lot of color but I do so lightly and sometimes using vanilla or white acrylic paint to blend and smooth out the Neocolor II.

Once all the layers were dry, I still wasn’t happy with it. It didn’t have the depth of shading I wanted so I pulled out my Prisma Premier colored pencils. I can’t even begin to tell you what all the colors were that I used. Most of them were very similar in color to the Neocolor IIs I used. But for the eyes I first started by adding black Posca paint pen for the pupils and on the edge of the upper eyelid and a bit on the nostrils of her nose.  I also added vanilla and white acrylic paint for the highlights on her face before adding colored pencil. I waited on the highlights in her eyes until I was almost done.

Then I went to town just layering colored pencil with lots of the similar colors to the Neocolor IIs and using either a blending stump or a blending pencil to help smooth out some of the colored pencil. In the end, I stopped using the blending stump and blender pencil and just added color with the pencils.

I did not use a reference photo when I added color. This is completely from my imagination and the next steps will be too. I plan on using watercolor for the rest of the page. It will span into the full spread of the two pages but what will develop is completely unknown at this time.

I don’t plan my art work. At the most I might start out by thinking I’ll do a face, or I’ll do a mandala, or I’ll do an abstract collage of doodles or as in one of my pages I decided to partition it off into six equal parts with a border between each of the parts, but that is as much as my planning goes for these days.

Once I make that choice, if it is a face, I’ll decide what angle I want. If it is a mandala, I’ll decide if I want one or multiple mandalas. Then I’ll decide if I want the face or the mandala to be center of the page or to one side, if one side then which and so on. I make decisions as I go. I do start them all with pencil first. When I say I decide, it is more of an intuitive decision. I don’t make the decision on what I think the end result will look like. I go by what my intuition is telling me.

I guess in some ways, I create my art the way I go through life. I do think ahead and try to imagine where I want it to go and sometimes I make choices that will help me to get there. But where I think it might go, rarely is where it ends up. And most times what my intuition tells me to do rarely fits with anything I’ve visualized.

However, my main focus is on the now and doing what I feel needs to be done next. I have not done any huge studies of what colors blend well together to make other colors. I go on intuition when it comes to what color to use next. I don’t generally do any test swatches to make sure they will mix well together. I just add them to my page. I do start small and if I don’t like it, then I’ll go for another color. For the most part, I don’t do that very often. I’ve learned my intuition is usually right on target. It is when I try and alter what my intuition tells me that it goes wrong.

#Inktober was so much fun and carried with it such a variety of emotions with each drawing. The ones I thought I disliked at the beginning, I now find beautiful in their own way. I understand how they represent my search for own style. I was surprised when the graphic style started to appear and very pleased when I saw the results. Then mixing them with mandalas and tangles. It was like bringing all the things I love together in one piece of art. My inner artist was dancing a jig inside she was so pleased, especially with day 31.

I have heard other artists talk about how their emotions appear in their art. I rarely ever saw this happen in my art until now. It is subtle. And sometimes, it is surprising. It can be surprising because sometimes what appears in my art isn’t how I thought I was feeling. Take for instance, day 15. This was during the most active time of the “Me Too” movement on Facebook and I was seeing a lot of posts about it. I had a mixture of emotions about what I was seeing in my news feed along with it and some of the discussions between people for and against Trump. It took me by surprise when my drawing ended up appearing as if she was in prayer and possibly spiritual in nature.

On the surface, I was frustrated and angry by the Trump posts because when I stepped back from the emotions of it all, it was difficult to tell the difference between the opposing parties. The hate and bigotry, mud slinging and name calling was going on from both sides and it just made me sick.

On the surface, when I read all the various “Me Too” stories, I was saddened and sickened by how many there were and so fearful that those two little words, “Me Too”, would become a trigger for someone instead of comforting words.

To find these feelings manifesting into a picture that for me reflects my spirit in prayer was calming and soothing. It helped me to realize that deep inside I was in prayer over all the turmoil going on. I have no formal religion though I grew up in a Baptist church and then a non-denominational church in my teens and adult years, I was surprised to find this drawing containing elements that are associated with religions I have not been a part of but do respect. I love it for that reason.

I know there are people who use art to release their emotions. I use writing to do that. It seems that art for me is becoming a doorway I can open to discover what is going on even deeper within myself. I can use writing to do that as well but I have also found writing can keep me from moving deeper if I don’t intentionally ask myself the important questions. Art, however, requires no questions, just an opening of the soul. The nice thing about art though is it doesn’t have to be a conscious opening. Therefore, it isn’t invasive. It is less scary. And if you really love watching how the mediums blend and mix together it can be very comforting and a joyful experience.

Month of October

Most evenings, and in some cases days, I sit on my sofa and draw while either streaming art videos or watching Blue Bloods on Cravetv. That is when I’m not working. Blue Bloods has become a favorite to watch. I love the whole family dynamic. I loved watching Magnum PI when it was out and wish Cravetv or Netflix had the whole series. Tom Selleck’s character in Blue Bloods is a step up and I love this character even more. There is something about a strong male character with honorable characteristics and integrity that appeal to my heart and soul. While at the same time, he is able to admit to making mistakes. I think too, I’ve learned more about the minds of men while watching this show than I have in real life. Most men I know don’t reveal what they reveal on the show.

I watch the show more for the family and relationship dynamics than I do for the action and adventure in the law stories (and yes, I do love action and adventure and law shows).  I haven’t read anything about this series before I started watching it and have only come to the conclusion (on my own) that the law stories are only there to support the real stories playing out in the relationships between the characters, which is how it should be. When I think about Blue Bloods and the various series of CSI, it stands out even more. CSI’s foundation are the crimes, where Blue Bloods foundation is family. I like both of them but I think I love Blue Bloods even more because of this.

I didn’t mean to do a review of the program I’ve been watching almost non-stop, but this post is about October and the show has become a major portion of what I am focused on this month. The other focus is Inktober.

Inktober has mostly taken up my sketch time. I don’t mind. In fact, I am enjoying the challenge of coming up with something new each day. With my focus being on faces, and my skill level being pretty much that of a novice, I find myself feeling as though I’m repeating myself, that is until I flip through the pages of my sketches.

With that being said here are my 3 pages so far:

They are in order of creation. You might have noticed that I started out with front facing portraits, then switched to three-quarter facing portraits. This is because I am working on the Fabulous Faces course created by Tamara Laporte. Week three is learning how to draw and paint the three-quarter face. I want to move on, and I might because what I’m working on is the drawing of them. She includes how to paint them as well but since I’m working on Inktober, I think I’ll move on to the next week and go back after October to focus on painting the faces. It isn’t that I don’t want to paint. I just want to focus on how to draw them first.

This is my first sketch following her instruction for week three, my next sketches were all done in inktober:

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There is graphite smeared all over the page. This is part of the process when I’m learning. I don’t worry about the graphite smearing not until I get better at what I’m drawing, then I try to be cleaner with my sketches. I still need to work on getting the angles and placement right which I think I did better in the last two #inktober sketches shown in my pages above.

I noticed I tend to draw faces looking in the same direction so I made a point to change them up a bit. I don’t know if it is because I learned to draw them in that direction first or if it is because I’m right handed or what. I do know at first it feels uncomfortable to try drawing something in the opposite direction so when I practice I try changing it up a bit so I don’t end up in a set pattern and so I become comfortable drawing faces in various directions.

I still want to work on different facial expressions. They are a challenge. They don’t come naturally. What comes naturally is the neutral expression in most of the faces I’ve drawn this month. I know it all will become easier as I practice more and more.

The other thing I started to do which I can do while sitting on my sofa is to create a reference journal for the tangles I like. Here is my first page which I created last night.

Page 1Sometimes I just want to flip through pages to find a design I like instead of searching through countless tangles online. I find I don’t remember the names of the tangles very well which means finding the ones I enjoy drawing can be frustrating, so having a reference will be handy.

I made the journal for my tangles by finding a printable grid online. I print it on both sides of regular printer paper. Then I fold it in half so I can use it to create signatures. I used a medium weight cardstock for a sort of cover for each signature. This is mainly to give each signature some protection and a more solid structure. I haven’t sewn them together yet. I thought it would be easier to draw on the pages before they were bound. I am also still considering how I will bind them. I’m considering the type of binding they use in the traveler’s notebooks either twine or elastic and just slip them in so they will be easy to slip in and out when using them for references when I’m working on a project. I don’t plan on having the tangles in any particular order, so they won’t be alphabetical. It would be too difficult to add new tangles I come across, so they will just end up in a random order.

I am not creating detailed step-outs. I’m doing only minimal step-outs, just enough to help me remember how to draw them. This is mainly for space purposes. I want several tangles on each page and since I will have their names over each one it will be easy to look up more details if I need them.

You might wonder why I am printing up the grid instead of buying grid paper. I have a couple of reasons for this. Lately, I have been unable to find grid paper on a decently weighted paper that my pigma micron pen won’t bleed through or ghost through. I have also found it difficult to find the size grid I want. If I do find the size grid I want usually the other side of the paper has a different grid size. I want both sides to have the same size grid. Having a printable means as long as I have printer paper and ink for my printer, I can print up my grid whenever I need more grid paper. Those are most of my reasons. I may explore the dot grid at some point if I can find a printable for it.

Once the idea of trying to find a printable for a dot grid was in my head, I couldn’t resist looking for one. I found it and probably by the time I’m ready to write another blog post, I will have incorporated it into my tangle journal signatures and have some step-outs drawn on a page or two. I may mix it in with the regular grid paper so I have options depending on what tangle I’m wanting to add to my journal.

As I fill out pages and have enough completed for a signature, I’ll bind the pages into the signature by sewing them. I think I’ll keep each signature as its own entity, especially if I use the binding system they use in traveler’s notebook covers. I can always give it a try and if I don’t like it, I can bind the signatures together within a hardcover using coptic stitch or some other stitch.

At one time, I was creating individual cards for tangles and drawing the step-outs on one side of the card. I was doing this so I would have a deck of cards I could draw from when I just wanted to pull a random tangle to create an abstract drawing. I have 56 cards so far which is a nice start but I realized something after I created them.

I don’t do random very well.

I like planning for effect. I think my #Inktober sketches reflect this very well. Every single one was an experiment with effect. I didn’t randomly pull something out of a deck of cards and use it. It was done intuitively.  Only three out of the sketches were done from a reference photo (8th,10th and 12th) and those were done in order to try and incorporate different facial expressions. The rest of their sketch was all intuitive, meaning I chose what popped into my head. Sometimes, I tried to resist what popped into my head but I soon learned resistance was futile. Whatever popped into my head, did so with persistence and stayed until I did what it wanted, then it left making room for something else to pop in. Then the cycle repeated itself until I decided the sketch was complete.

I need to wrap this up. I still have my #Inktober drawing to do for today and I have mother duties I need to attend to including cooking dinner.

 

 

Long week and #Inktober2017

It has been a long week of working seven days with one of those days being an eight hour shift on our Thanksgiving Holiday here in Canada. I don’t mind. It is a joy to interact with people, learn their plans for the holiday and helping them to find what they need to provide their holiday meal for their family.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep up with my Inktober sketches for those seven days. My work is very physical which means I end up very tired especially after an eight hour shift. It turned out easier than I thought it would. I believe this was due to my forethought of making each sketch conform to a small area on the page.

These are page 1 and page 2 of my #Inktober2017 sketches. The pages are 7″ x 10″ which includes the area where the pages are bound. Each square is approximately 2 1/2″ x 2 3/4″, therefore each sketch is relatively small.  Some of them took only 15 minutes or so to sketch while others took a bit longer.

One of the reasons I decided to attempt the #Inktober challenge this year was the fact that I could do them while sitting on my sofa, resting while watching videos. This was important because my hours for when I work fluctuate. I don’t go into work at the same time every day. Some days I go in as early as 7am, while other days I might go to work at 2 or 3 in the afternoon or other days as late as 6 or 7pm. Therefore, it was important for me to be able to do my sketches either before I went to work or after coming home and needing to put my feet up and rest for a couple hours.

I try to do more intricate artwork on my days off as well as write a blog post, but most of the time I end up not having time for both because what I couldn’t get done on the days I work is left to be done on my days off, which means running errands or getting housework done. I usually reserve one of my days off for doing laundry which sometimes means I can work on larger pieces or paint in between loads of laundry. Today was supposed to be one of those days, however, we have an appointment today which interferes with those plans, so I’m at least working on posting on my blog.

I mentioned in the last post that I was working on another tangle page. I’m not yet finished with it, but here it is so far:

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I basically used this page as a sort of practice with various tangle patterns and learning how to make the page feel cohesive by repeating different patterns in various sections. I still have some spaces to fill and shading to do.

What I find interesting is this… when I photograph something I work on and then place it here in my blog, my mind, for some unknown reason, sees it differently. Looking at this piece in the photo, I am better able to visualize some changes I could have made, or how I could have made it more cohesive. I might still be able to do it and may play around with it to see if I can.

The thing I love about tangles is the flexibility of working with them. They can become anything you want them to be. If you look at the bottom right section, I used that tangle in one of my #Inktober2017 sketches, in particular, the one dated 7October2017, for her hair. I changed it slightly but in essence it is the same tangle. I used a similar technique on 10October’s sketch.

I have today’s sketch to do yet which will be done later this afternoon or evening. For now, I need to get ready for our appointment and then do laundry and clean up from our late Thanksgiving dinner we had last night. I don’t always get to the cleanup right away. Yesterday, I was still recovering from working seven days straight. My body ached and I felt tired. At least, I had the energy to cook our long awaited meal and run a couple of errands while we waited for the ham to cook in the slow cooker. (I love my slow cooker.)

On top of this my daughter wasn’t feeling well the past few days. One of my mornings started about an hour earlier than expected with her waking up suddenly and throwing up. On days like that it is hard to leave for work even when she reassures me she is feeling better and will be okay. This maybe why I was compelled to draw such sad faces on a few of my girls for #Inktober.

I want to talk a bit about my sketches so far for #Inktober. I did decide to focus on faces. I just wasn’t sure how it would go. I thought I would incorporate tangles too, but again wasn’t sure how. I am intrigued by the progression of my sketches. The first few obviously reflect the mind of a beginner, someone who is searching or stretching outside of their comfort zone. Some of them not coming out as well as I would have liked them to be but persevering through those uncomfortable moments of wanting to just wad them up in a ball and throw them away.

I’m glad I didn’t.

I love seeing the progress I’m making. I also love certain things about each one and the movement into the more graphic design. The graphic nature of the last few faces I did and incorporating a mandala structure around them in a way represents what I learned in my mandala journey and its influence on my practice of drawing faces. The last sketch I did yesterday, though it isn’t as obvious still contains the graphic structure but now going back and using cross-hatching to add in more dimension.

I did not expect this to happen when I started #Inktober this year and chose faces. I just thought I would work on learning how to draw different facial expressions. I never imagined it would take this turn or journey into possibly discovering a style I would embrace as my own. I am intrigued where the rest of October will take me on this journey.